Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dog Encounters

Last week I hit the bike path to get in my short duration high intensity run for the week because that is what I do to keep my 5k fast while training for 50k distances.  That and throw around big weights, go vertical, and all sort of strength training to build muscle in my legs and keep my testosterone levels jacked.   But this is not a post about flipping the switch and turning loose your inner beast on a mission to get stronger/faster, this is a post about what to do when while on that mission a big dog on the loose gets lit up by your headlamp standing sentry in your path on a cold winter night.
More intimidating than others for sure but all loose dogs should be given the same attention.  This dog appears alert but is not displaying signs of aggression.  Source.
Naturally this kind of shit upsets me.  Here I am trying to get my run on in a deserted place and now I have my own hound and a pitbull to manage.  Ignoring the situation is the dumbest thing to do.  If you become the attention of a loose dog that can fuck you up, you better give your full attention to that animal.  Keep running and the dogs prey drive will take over and he may come and bite/maul you.  Blame the dog all you want, but by running cowardice is exhibited, prey behavior mimicked and an action the dog may have not taken elicited.  Fact:  Humans cannot out sprint dogs that can eat you, not even Olympic sprinters.
Rabbits run from dogs because they are food.  You should not because you are a human, master of the dog.   You are on the top of the food chain, embrace it.  Source
So now that you have given the dog your attention and come to a stop, stand your ground, face the dog and confidently tell him no every time he advances.  If you are part of the pace crazed disposable income music loving crowd you will also feel a need to stop your Garmin and remove your ear buds in order to give your full attention.  Yours truly doesn’t run with music as it degrades my situational awareness but I am guilty of stopping my watch.  If the dog attempts to flank and get around you turn and always face the animal.
A buffalo standing his ground.  This is a shame because I would have liked to eat him.  Hopefully this never happens to you.  Source.
Sometimes encounters like this can end like two ships passing in the night but dogs are smart enough to take your back if you stupidly offer it up.  Continue to face the dog until it is out of range, as previously mentioned, redundancy equals importance.  Sometimes when enough time has passed the negligent owner might come around and take control of their animal and you can move on.  Sometimes after a few minutes the dog might lose interest and leave, or help may arrive.  This dance can last a while or escalate all too quickly, but avoid letting the dog into your personal space.
A Dalmatian showing aggression.  Lefty has a scar on his nose from a loose Dalmatian that got a hand jammed down his throat, flipped over, and a knee on his ribs until he cried uncle and ran away with his tail between his legs.  Source.
Dogs tend to give their intentions away through their body language but can flip quickly depending on how you respond, remain calm.  I have had one dog engage in stalking and bar his teeth the moment I encountered him.  In situations like these it makes sense to match the dog’s escalation with an escalation of your own by throwing things or picking up a stick to deliver a beating and getting ready to stomp him.  If you choose to carry a defensive tool, prepare to use it.  There is no need to escalate to violence when encountering a dopey tail wagging dog not showing any signs of aggression.

Defensive tools a runner might opt to carry but are not limited to include kinetic action devices, blades, bear mace, and Tasers.  Bare hands are sufficient for some.  The AR10 chaffed and cut into my 5k time so I do without these days.
The overall idea is to discourage and avoid a physical encounter but even my intimidating presence with my hound at my side has not been able to discourage all dogs from invading our personal space.  Balance is of utmost importance in all situations, especially these, do not get knocked down.  I prefer to maintain a side profile facing the animal with knees slightly bent in case I need to stomp the son of a bitch (proper English use).  Keep you tender fingers balled into fists so they don’t become dog sausages and track the dog with your arms and body.  Protect your face and neck.
A tail wagging friendly working dog.
Maybe the dog is playful and curious, maybe not but you will have to be the judge of that matter and decide what course of action to take.  If attacked, as a biped you can stomp and kick.  If you prefer a more personal touch you might want to control the neck, flip the dog by it limbs or tail, knee on stomach, choke, etc...  Stay on your feet and use your weight and long limbs to your advantage.  Take away the dogs footing/balance and he becomes much easier to manage.  This is all easier said than done but it is better to go down fighting than cowering.  Most dogs will give up when engaged.  Yes you may get bit but that is better than being mauled.
Nothing is more pathetic than people without enough sense to look after their own well being or defend themselves when attacked.  A cell phone does not qualify as proper mitigation.  After you place a call it only offers the possibility that someone will come to look for your body or send an ambulance after the fact.  The immediate situation remains.  Anyone can stand up for themselves.  A 100lb woman outweighs most dogs and has all the tools needed to dominate all but the most vicious of these animals as a human.  
A human capable of defending herself and her yip yap dog. 
In the few years I have had Lefty I have lost count of all the loose dogs we have come across.  Dogs are social and attract other dogs.  I imagine in a different time and place I could have easily grown my pack, as almost all of these dogs were very curious and friendly.  This was my third run in with this pit bull this month and his owner tends to be 1-3 minutes behind.  In two instances his owner eventually grabbed him and in one he left after a few minutes of being told no.  He seems friendly enough but Lefty is not, especially when in a leashed vs. unleashed situation.  I always take Lefty’s side in these matters and hold a 2-0 record in dog encounters turned violent.  A loose dog is just as liable to get his ass beat as it is to attack someone.    
I hope to never be on the business end of this
There is always the option put forth in the old joke about surviving a bear attack by being faster than the slowest person you are with too.  Or was that a metaphor for financial markets?  Probably a bad idea,  I don't know, read this for surviving bear attacks.


  1. you know my feelings about stray dogs. not good.

  2. All very good advice. Luckily, I've never cross anything but a "friendly" dog on a run - the ones that are wagging their tail like crazy and drooling at you even crazier. Anything less than this would scare the crap out of me.